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Official Gazette

Friday, November 15, 2019

Vietnam to join peacekeeping operations

Updated: 10:26’ - 03/09/2013

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh
Deputy Minister of National Defense

The policy of active and comprehensive international integration, including integration in the defense field, charted out at the XIth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, demonstrates a renewal of thinking and a theoretical conclusion from the practice of external activities of the Party in the period of accelerated national industrialization and modernization.

In recent years, in furtherance of the Party’s policy, Vietnam’s activities of international integration in defense have been crowned with many great achievements, boosting the intensive development of bilateral defense cooperation relations and the active and effective participation in multilateral defense cooperation structures.

Vietnam’s preparation of necessary conditions for participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations has recently attracted much domestic and international attention[1]. This is a new step of development in Vietnam’s international integration in defense, aiming to meet the national construction and defense objectives.

The concept and goal of United Nations peacekeeping operations have been defined in various resolutions of the Security Council: “Peacekeeping operations mean diverse combinations of civil and military activities of countries, international organizations (with the United Nations being the highest) and regional organizations worldwide under the command of the United Nations, aiming to establish peace in conflict zones and settle disputes and differences between involved parties through peaceful measures”.  The United Nations peacekeeping forces operate on the basis of the United Nations Charter and international laws such as the international humanity law, the international law on human rights, the law on armed conflicts, and resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and a number of other relevant legal documents[2].

The active preparations made by the Vietnamese army and various sectors as well as authorities at different levels for the country’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations have always adhered to the Party’s new thinking on international integration in defense. The decision to accelerate the preparation of conditions for effective participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations not only demonstrates the renewal of the thinking as well as the spirit of active and proactive international integration of the Party and the State of Vietnam, but also marks a new development of the Vietnamese army’s qualification and capability for international cooperation.

A new step of development of the thinking on international integration in defense

First of all, joining United Nations peacekeeping operations is a specific manifestation of the application of the Party’s thinking on international integration in defense. This is a substantial change in the approach to regional and international cooperation activities in the defense field. The process of regionalization and globalization is indispensable in the development in mankind’s history, bringing nations and peoples closer to one another, making them more inter-connected and inter-influenced in all fields, of which defense and security are no exception.

As Vietnam’s comprehensive relations with the region and the world have become more profound, its defense and security have been strongly influenced by the regional and global security situations. Hence, the Party’s thinking on international integration in defense demonstrates the strong link between national protection and settlement of security issues emerging in the region and the world. This is not merely cooperation in the settlement of emerging regional and global security problems in a way that benefits Vietnam, but also demonstrates a new approach that considers the common security challenges to the region and the world as Vietnam’s. With such thinking, Vietnam’s participation in the settlement of regional and global security problems will show that it is a responsible member of the ASEAN and international communities. In this regard, participating in United Nations peacekeeping activities explicitly demonstrates a new thinking of considering the peace and stability in all regions worldwide as Vietnam’s interest. This approach brings Vietnam closer and more attached to regional and global friends. Hence, Vietnam’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping activities will expand the link between Vietnam’s defense and world peace and stability on the global scope. By doing so, Vietnam shows its desire to maintain peace and stability in the world with concrete and positive deeds. This will certainly be highly welcome by our friends worldwide and help heighten Vietnam’s international prestige.

In that spirit, participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations will bring the country’s international integration in defense from the regional to international level with more diversified, difficult and complicated activities.

The basic tasks of a United Nations peacekeeping mission usually include support to maintain a peaceful and stable environment; support to prevent and minimize conflicts and protect civilians; support to establish legal systems and develop judicial and security sectors; community support via humanitarian activities, healthcare and infrastructure development, etc. In essence, these are humanitarian activities not directly related to conflicts among involved parties, and so they are not highly sensitive.

Firm maintenance of national independence and sovereignty

Like other activities of international integration in defense, Vietnam’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations clearly demonstrates the Communist Party of Vietnam’s viewpoint and principles on international integration, of which firm maintenance of national independence and sovereignty is one of the most basic principles. This viewpoint has been thoroughly grasped when Vietnam joins regional and international organizations and participates in their activities. While accepting and responsibly performing the obligations of a member of regional and international organizations, Vietnam proves itself an independent and sovereign country. This spirit will continue to be upheld when the country participates in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Accordingly, Vietnam’s forces in the United Nations peacekeeping operations are only placed under the United Nations’ administration, observe the principles of the UN Charter and are deployed under the Security Council’s resolutions on the basis of peace agreements and consent of concerned parties. These operations must also ensure neutrality and impartiality, not involved in combat, and only use force at a minimum level as a measure of last resort for self-defense. Therefore, Vietnam’s forces engaged in United Nations peacekeeping operations are neither combat forces nor placed under the command of any country but operate only within the framework of agreements with the United Nations. As these activities are voluntary, Vietnam is free to select regions, scales and forms of its participation suitable to its capability and conditions. Moreover, these forces only perform tasks already agreed in writing with the UN agency in charge of peacekeeping operations. Under such agreements, Vietnam’s independence and sovereignty are expressed in strict legal provisions and cannot be abused. Hence, Vietnam can decide on the specific contents, forms, locations and activities of its peacekeeping forces while fulfilling the obligations of a member country when performing the United Nations’ peacekeeping tasks. This right demonstrates the spirit of absolute respect for Vietnam’s independence and sovereignty principle through its ability to decide on the participation in and performance of specific activities by Vietnam’s forces at the United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Proactive integration in defense

Participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations demonstrates not only Vietnam’s responsibility toward the international community but also its viewpoint on proactive international integration to achieve the objectives of building and defending the socialist homeland of Vietnam set forth by the Party. It is a great effort for Vietnam to participate in those activities. The international community is expecting Vietnam’s contributions in this field. Many countries express their firm confidence in Vietnam’s professional capabilities in various aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Vietnam’s military and civilian personnel engaged in United Nations peacekeeping operations will be “peace ambassadors”, showing the responsibility and humanitarian tradition of the Vietnamese nation. Through their practical deeds, Vietnam’s forces engaged in United Nations peacekeeping operations will help heighten Vietnam’s prestige and status in the international arena, expanding its international relations and making important contributions to developing Vietnam’s relations with the rest of the world and facilitating cooperation with other countries for mutual development and serving national construction. Information and relations gained through United Nations peacekeeping operations will be important prerequisites for Vietnam to develop trade and investment relations with countries in the regions that have strategic importance in the world and high cooperation potential.

So, participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations constitutes a typical example of the relationship between international integration in defense and international integration in other fields. In this case, international integration in defense can go first, creating favorable conditions for international integration in other fields.

Demonstration of Vietnam’s defense policy

Vietnam’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations will help the world understand more clearly Vietnam’s defense policy of peace and self-defense, creating mutual understanding and trust between Vietnam and the international community. This is very beneficial to the cause of national defense. Specific activities of Vietnam’s forces engaged in United Nations peacekeeping operations will help widely disseminate the policies of the Vietnamese Party and State as well as the cultural traditions of the Vietnamese nation. The international community’s understanding of and sympathy with Vietnam will create a strength to prevent and counteract activities of hostile forces against Vietnam. This is important for Vietnam to implement the strategy of firm national defense from afar, prevent war and protect peace for the country.

Joining United Nations peacekeeping operations also creates favorable conditions for the Vietnamese People’s Army to build itself into a revolutionary, regular, elite and incrementally modernized one”. Vietnamese officers and soldiers will be tested in complicated and difficult international circumstances when engaging in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Such circumstances will temper our officers and soldiers and raise their commanding and coordination capabilities and mobility as well as capabilities to cope with complicated circumstances and research and understand different situations. The environment of United Nations peacekeeping operations will help Vietnamese officers and soldiers learn about international law and international operation, and knowledge and skills of coordination in multi-national forces. Moreover, this is also an opportunity for Vietnamese officers and soldiers to access new military knowledge and technologies. Therefore, participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations will help build a staff of army officers and soldiers with firm political stuff, loyal to the Party, the Fatherland and the people, with profound professional knowledge and ability to operate in a multi-national environment. It not only aims to boost Vietnam’s international integration in defense but also practically contributes to promoting the posture and strength of Vietnam’s all-people defense and achieving the objectives of national defense under the new conditions.

Thoughtful and responsible preparations

For a fruitful participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, which is suitable to Vietnam’s capability, Vietnam has been expeditiously preparing everything, first of all human resources.

Vietnam has dispatched many teams to study other countries’ experiences in joining United Nations peacekeeping operations. Most recently, an inter-sector delegation comprising officials of the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, has conducted field surveys of peacekeeping activities of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and worked with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). The results of the working trip have affirmed the Vietnamese Party and State’s correct policy on participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The UN agencies have highly valued Vietnam’s political will as seen in the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s latest statement at the 12th Shangri La Dialogue. The UN peacekeeping bodies have expressed their expectations on Vietnam’s participation and their willingness to cooperate with and support Vietnam to speed up its preparations for official participation. The field surveys have showed that Vietnam is fully qualified for, and capable of, participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

In addition to two fields of engineering and military medicine planned for participation, Vietnam is able to participate in other fields, where Vietnam has strengths, professional qualifications and experience, such as military envoys, staff officers and construction engineering. The United Nations’ policies for active peacekeeping personnel are conformable with international law and have many similarities with Vietnam’s regulations[3].

Vietnam has so far sent many army officers to international training courses on United Nations peacekeeping operations. Vietnam’s relevant agencies have studied to institutionalize Vietnam’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations. We are actively preparing for the building of Vietnam’s peacekeeping operations training center, where Vietnamese army officers and soldiers and other forces will be trained in foreign languages, international law and necessary skills for participation in peacekeeping operations.

In the coming time, we need to finalize the preparations in legal procedures, mechanisms, policies, recruitment, dispatch and training while further exchanging experiences with other countries and concluding necessary agreements with the United Nations.

Participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations is a new development in implementing the Party’s guideline on international integration in defense. With our determination and capability enlightened by the Party’s new thinking on international integration in defense, Vietnam’s engagement in United Nations peacekeeping operations will yield good results, contributing to maintaining peace and stability in the world while heightening the status and strength of Vietnam’s defense for the cause of national construction and defense.-



[1] In June 2005, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai assigned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to report to the United Nations that “The Government of Vietnam is preparing conditions and when it has sufficient conditions Vietnam will join the United Nations peacekeeping forces in two fields of mine sweeping and military medicine”. This viewpoint was later confirmed by President Nguyen Minh Triet and Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh that Vietnam would send its forces to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, mainly in the humanitarian fields that are suitable to Vietnam’s capability, such as military observers, mine sweeping and military medicine after completing its preparations. On May 31, 2013, at the 12th Shangri La Dialogue, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung once again announced that Vietnam decided to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, firstly in the field of engineering, military medicine and military observers.

[2] So far, the United Nations has established 68 peacekeeping missions with the participation of 120 countries and more than 700,000 military soldiers, policemen and civil workers. Currently, the United Nations is maintaining 16 missions with a total of 111,018 members, including 77,702 troops, 12,553 policemen, 1,844 military observers, 5.107 civil workers, 2,088 volunteers and over 10,000 local workers. Seven of 10 ASEAN member countries have joined United Nations peacekeeping operations; only Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar have not yet officially participated in these efforts.

[3] Allowances are paid by the United Nations; peacekeeping personnel may take biannual leaves of maximum two weeks each. The United Nations pays all costs of treatment and compensations in case of casualty, accident, sickness, etc.

VNL_KH1 

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